|Action||Revise Valid Definition|
|Comment Period||Ends 8/4/2014|
The League of Women Voters of Virginia (LWV) supports retention of the current definition of "valid" as that word appears in the description and regulations for eligible forms of identifiction (ID) for voting in Virginia elections. The definition, adopted by the Sate Board of Elections (SBE) on June 10, 2014, pursuant to the authority of Section 24.2-103 of rhe Virginia Code, clearly reflects the purpose of the ID, which is to demonstrate that the person proposing to vote is the person whose photo is on the ID. Any expiration date included on the ID is not relevant for this purpose.
On the other hand, we find the substitute definition proposed by the SBE on June 24, 2014 to be confusing and its reference to an expiration date, which many of the eligible IDs do not have, to be unnecessary and irrelevant for the purpose of identifying the voter. Adopting the proposed substitute definition would:
1. require election officers to make legal determinations for which they lack the necessary data and qualifications.
2. likely result in significant delays at the polls and workload for election officers during post-election canvass.
3. result in a discriminatory appllication of the ID requirement to Virginia voters because not all eligble IDs, including the new Virginia voter photo ID, include expiration dates; election officers could not possibly determine whether an otherwise acceptable ID without an expiration date is current.
4. impose significant hardships on many elderly registered voters who are likely to have difficulty in obtaining a free photo ID and are generally able to rely on expired (or other not eligible) photo identification for their normal everyday needs.
The LWV-VA notes that:
The June 10th definition was developed chiefly in response to citizen comments about the proposed regulations for implementing photo ID legislation, including those which addressed the potential difficulty of elderly Virginia voters, who often use expired IDs for many purposes, to obtain a new ID for voting. This additional time-consuming round of comments was unnecessary and further delays citizen education outreach efforts.
Virginia election officers have not been trained to be "ID police" or pass judgment on IDs when checking voters in at the polls. If now required to search for expiration dates, it could likely bring voting to a standstill at busy times at the polls. It is quite likely that the extent of expiration checking will vary from jurisdiction-to-jurisdiction, precinct-to-pecinct, and election offier-to-election officer, producing a siginificant lack of uniformity and legal action.
Under the proposed June 24th definition, a voter's presentation of an ID with an expired date, or no expiration date, and uncertainty about the validity of these documents is likely to result in a significant increase in provisional votes, which will cause havoc with election management improvements.
The LWV is very concerned about the effect of this proposed substitute regulation on the efficient, uniform and proper management of elections in Virginia. Based on the edperience of our many members who serve as election officers, we can envision many scenarios where its applciation will make the long lines problems of the 2012 general election look like "a walk in the park."
We are also concerned that the authority of the SBE to adopt the definition of "valid" on June 10th has been implicitly questioned. Since the term was not defined in the legislation requiring the photo ID nor elsewhere in Title 24.2 of the Virginia Code, Section 24.2-103 requires SBE to provide guidance to Virginia electoral boards and general registrars, which it did on that date.
Virginia voters have been subject to major changes affecting their right to vote and their place of voting in recent years -- from voting in new districts due to redistricting, to changes in ID requirements two years ago, to wondering if the change taking palce this year was in effect for last year. Now this current and unnecessary delay (and proposed changes)in regulations (accompanied with a lack of funding) have nearly eliminated the time available to inform voters of what they need to know to exercise their right to vote.